Daily News - Ruwanthi Abeyakoon - Ceylon
“It was a very interesting exercise for me to teach this Caribbean musical instrument to British students, although I was not of Caribbean or African origin. During my stay in Vienna, Austria as wife of Sri Lanka’s Ambassador, I performed at many prestigious concert halls in Vienna, accompanied by concert pianists and members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. I performed at the Musikverein Brahms-saal, Schönbrunn Orangerie, Böesendorfer-saal, the Barock-saal des Alten Rathauses for the benefit of the children of Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Philippines and Sri Lanka. For the cause of tsunami victims, I performed at the “Rotunda” circular hall of the UN in Vienna, Austria and also at the Federal Parliament of Austria. At the Böesendorfer concert, I enjoyed playing with the famous harpist – Professor Arcola Clarke of Graz University, as the harp and the Caribbean steel drums constituted an extraordinary and unique blend of the most ancient instrument dating back to Egyptian times with the most modern musical invention of the 20th century,” she said.
“In Austria, I played famous Austrian compositions and other compositions loved by Austrian concert audiences. These compositions included “The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz” composed by Johannes Strauss Junior, “Radetsky March” composed by Johannes Strauss Senior, “Vienna City of my Dreams” composed by the Austrian composer – Rudolf Sieczynski, “Merry Widow Waltz” composed by the Austro-Hungarian composer – Franz Lehar, and other compositions by the French composer Georges Bizet such as “Habanera” and “March of the Toreadors” from the Opera - “Carmen”. I also performed as Solo Steelpan Artiste at the Johann Strauss Festival (2004) in Oradea, Romania at the invitation Aigner Strauss, the only survivor of the famous Strauss family. At the Oradea Concert Hall, I played the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz and the “Romanian Waltz”, also known as “Waves of the Danube”, composed by the Romanian composer, Ion Ivanovici,” she elaborated.
After returning to Sri Lanka, she played the steel drums with Friends in Harmony Orchestra at various concerts, weddings, corporate functions, etc. “At this time, I played a varied repertoire including many Sinhala songs such as “Ganga Addara”, “Nim Him Sewwa”, “Handa Pane”, “Kimada Nawe” and Bailas. I am a long-standing member of this Orchestra and I am now the Co-director with the FTCL qualified accomplished Founder Director, Indrani Wijesundera. I will continue to play this instrument and popularize it among the people of Sri Lanka, as it is an amazing musical instrument which can accompany Sinhala songs beautifully with its sonorous sound. I would also like to turn out these instruments in Sri Lanka with the help of musical technicians. These drums are extremely good to play and also accompany Bailas which we have inherited from the Portuguese in the same way as Calypsos are played in the West Indies/Caribbean,” She talked on her future plans promising her Sri Lankan audience more musical renditions for them to enjoy.